Tags: Health Topics | Religion | homophily | music | affiliation | ethical

Similarity Seduces, But Which Traits Are Attractive?   

shared or common interests


Tuesday, 16 July 2019 04:43 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Common Ground Can Be a Relationship Builder 

Have you ever met someone at a social event and realized you share an uncommon interest or trait? Maybe you both collect stamps from Romania, still play a favorite board game, or share an uncommon food preference.

"You like Tabasco sauce on pizza, me too!"

If this has ever happened to you, you may have felt a special bond immediately, based on the shared patch of common ground alone. How does this happen? And are some types of shared traits or interests more attractive than others? Research reveals some answers.

The Significance of Shared Tastes

Jacques Launay and Robin I. M. Dunbar in "Playing With Strangers" (from 2015) investigated the impact of different types of similarity on interpersonal attraction when meeting strangers.

They began by discussing the concept of homophily, defined as our human tendency to affiliate with similar others. They sought to delve deeper into this concept, exploring the influence of different types of similarity, such as taste in music, age, or ethical viewpoints, on the way we feel about strangers who share our traits or views.

They conducting two online studies where participants were introduced to virtual partners with whom they shared traits. They discovered that a greater numbers of shared traits led to increased liking of the virtual partner, as well as ratings on the “Inclusion of Other in Self scale.”

The similarities Launay and Dunbar identified that were consistent predictors of these two measures were shared tastes in 1. Music, 2. Religion, and 3. Ethical viewpoints.

They described the significance of their findings, explaining that these types of traits “are likely to be judged as correlates of personality or social group, and may therefore be used as proxies of more in-depth information about a person who might be socially more relevant.”

Regarding the respective significance of different types of similarity, they note, for example, that shared occupation can be a starting point in terms of sparking conversation, but their research suggests people do not value this type of homophily as much as they value information on shared tastes.

They explain that when it comes to forming relationships, homophily provides a sense of shared character traits, not just a broad membership category to which both parties happen to belong.

Shared Traits Don't Always Equal Allure 

Whether we are interested in marathon running, downhill skiing, or crime drama binge watching on the couch, we frequently meet others who share our passions. Hobbies in general, however, do not provide the type of bonding as do other forms of more specific commonality.

In finding taste in music, political views, ethical views, and religion to be the best predictors of affiliative behavior, Launay and Dunbar explain that these factors provide insight into our social group and viewpoints.

Hobbies do not.

They note that hobbies usually reflect personal interests as opposed to community loyalties. They suggest that testing particular hobbies associated with different social groups, like sports associated with different types of classes, might be more significantly tied to positivity in affiliation.

In addition, recognizing that their research focused on forming new relationships rather than established relationships, they reported that sharing hobbies or interests, and sharing a sense of humor, did not appear to be relevant in forming new relationships, although previous research showed that they were indeed predictors of emotional closeness within established relationships.

They explain this distinction might indicate that homophily based on these traits may be more important to relational maintenance than formation.

Shared Musical Tastes Make Relational Harmony  

Because one of the most positive areas of common ground was music, Launay and Dunbar sought to explain its significance. They report that when meeting strangers who share our musical tastes, we are more inclined to like them and to feel close to them. Why is this? The authors explain that one view holds that music taste is related to other personality features as well as social identity.

Consequently, people may assume they can interpret identity from musical taste, which can forecast the type of relationship we might form with a stranger. They also cite one perspective regarding the evolutionary function of music and its role in forming social bonds, which could suggest that people who share musical tastes sense a stronger perception of solidarity.

The takeaway?

Are concerts and music festivals the best way to meet kindred spirits?

Research suggests that wherever you meet new people, on or offline, sparking conversation about traits proven to be the most promising indicators of affiliation may be a great way to test compatibility.

This article was first published in Psychology Today.

Wendy L. Patrick is a career prosecutor, named the Ronald M. George Public Lawyer of the Year, and recognized by her peers as one of the Top Ten criminal attorneys in San Diego by the San Diego Daily Transcript. She has completed over 150 trials ranging from human trafficking, to domestic violence, to first-degree murder. She is President of the Association of Threat Assessment Professionals San Diego Chapter and an ATAP Certified Threat Manager. Dr. Patrick is a frequent media commentator with over 4,000 appearances including CNN, Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and many others. She is author of "Red Flags" (St. Martin´s Press), and co-author of the revised version of the New York Times bestseller "Reading People" (Random House). On a personal note, Dr. Patrick holds a purple belt in Shorin-Ryu karate, is a concert violinist with the La Jolla Symphony, and plays the electric violin with a rock band. To read more of her reports — Click Here Now.

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You may have felt a special bond immediately, based on the shared patch of common ground alone. How does this happen? And are some types of shared traits or interests more attractive than others? Research reveals answers.
homophily, music, affiliation, ethical
Tuesday, 16 July 2019 04:43 PM
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